It is hard to remember the time when Magic: The Gathering or MTG was not around. Released in 1993, it became popular in a blink of an eye. It was the first trading card game, and it is still the most popular. Over 20 million players were playing it up to 2015, and this number continues to rise every day. The number of players went up to 38 million in 2019. So, when Netflix teamed up with Hasbro to work on the animated television series of MTG, no one was surprised.
Magic: The Gathering TV adaptations
Long story short, Netflix shook hands with Wizards of Coast and Hasbro, the developers and current owners of MTG rights, for flash animated TV based on the game. The official announcement came out in June 2019. In July 2019 Joe and Anthony Russo have shared the logo of these series at the Comic-Con.
This is not the first time when the movie industry wants to bring Magic: The Gathering on our screens. The first attempt was made by Universal Pictures in 2009. They worked on the scenario with Hasbro Company, the developers of Magic: The Gathering. After some time, Universal studio stepped away, and in January 2014 the 20th Century Fox studio picked up this idea. They bought the rights for production and found reliable co-financiers. And yet, in 2019 Disney has canceled the production, during the acquisition of the assets of 21st Century Fox.
The adaptation was stopped but has never forgotten. In 2016 was released a docu movie about Magic Pro Tour. It is called Enter the Battlefield. The movie was made by Nathan Holt, Greg Collins and Shawn Kornhauser.
Magic: The Gathering has a huge legacy, and fans ready to wait for new cards, video games, movies, and books. For years they are waiting and collecting new cards. Such a patient audience does not mind to wait for a new adaptation, as long as it is in the plans of the studio.
The essence of Magic: The Gathering
It is hard to find the person who has not heard of Magic: The Gathering game. The game is usually compared to D&D, but with amazing magic cards. Wizards of Coast, the developers of Magic: The Gathering who later became a part of Hasbro, created the game that is hungry for your analytical thinking, ability to solve puzzles, imagination, and desire to collect a fascinating deck of cards.
The rules are not even close to easy, but everyone can learn it during the first game. You are becoming a planeswalker, a wizard who plays against other magicians, using the cards from your deck. You have 20 life points at the beginning and have to save and raise them. Once you have 0 points, you lose. All the rules are written in rules, so you can take a look there whenever the situation is doubtful.
You start the game with 7 cards in your hand. Each card has a numerical number on it that represents its value. All the cards can be divided into lands and spells. Lands give you magical energy that fuels you when you cast spells. These cards can be played once in a turn. Spells are divided into “instants” and “sorceries” that can be played once, “artifacts” and “enchantments” are permanent and last longer, “creatures” summon creatures that attack opponents. There are a different set of cards, and in one of them, which is called Lorwyn, you will find the new type of planeswalkers. Cards also contain floating rules written on them.
Five basic colors of magic definitely must be mentioned in the TV adaptation. They all have their secret meanings and give powers to their owners. And don’t forget about colorless and multi-color types, which act by their own rules.
Where is the story?
Magic: The Gathering is definitely one of the most interesting, challenging and great ways to spend your evening or the whole day. Hack, this year, the game was proved to be Turing complete, which proves that it is much more than a simple game. While this is a legend among cardboard games, is it enough to build a convincing story around?
Nic Kelman, the novelist, and screenwriter, who joined Wizards of the Coast in 2017, apparently believes that the Magic: The Gathering has everything to become a great story. His main task is to make a grimoire, the “bible” for magicians. Kelman was hired by a company to help with the cross-media platform. Magic rules went out into the real world in the form of comic books and literature for fans. His task was to make a story of the game.
We saw the games made into movies and anime series numerous times. The WOW success on a big screen inspired numerous studious to look into the game’s industry closely. Besides, this game has a story. It starts when you take the deck, and it ends when you win or lose. All that Kelman and his colleagues have to do is to stuff the middle with some juicy conflict. Richard Garfield, the creator of the game, back in 1991, has already taken care of twists and turns in Magic: The Gathering, creating more than a collectible card game.
Financial stability of Magic: The Gathering
There is a system of collecting cards, which allows the player to become an owner of rare abilities, to receive extra powers. This means that you have to buy cards. The catalog contains thousands of them and grows every year. Buying a few cards does not cost you much, and yet the company receives millions. For example, in 2018 Magic: The Gathering ended the year with $500 million income, according to Bloomberg.
This is not the only popular game in Hasbro’s possession. The company owns Scrabble and Monopoly. And yet, Magic: The Gathering is on top of the list because of its popularity. Hasbro is planning to reveal new online game Arena.
The mystery of cards popularity
Actually, there is no mystery at all. Everyone who saw the cards previously can admit their beauty. While you have to use your fantasy in almost all similar games, the cards make it way easier to imagine yourself in the world of magic. The characters look heroic and noble; the creatures are both dangerous and adorable at the same time; weapons are shiny, and spells just vivid and sparkling. The fantasy world has always been luring because of its mesmerizing beauty with deep colors and castles behind. You can actually see this gorgeous elf that protects you with superpowers against your competitors.
We can only wonder whether Netflix producers will be able to save the beauty on screen. With each new card, Kelman and his team must check carefully whether the story continues unbroken. The Universe of Magic: The Gathering has to stay undivided. Game developers check carefully that the timeline is even.
Each card must have its own unique and interesting name and contain an attractive picture. The team of illustrators works closely with the team responsible for game mechanics. It may be hard to follow the timeline when there are thousands of cards, and each deck may contain 60 cards minimum. And let’s not forget about expansion sets that many of us love so much.
During all these 25 years that game exists, it is only natural that players became attached to the characters on the cards. They created fandoms of their favorite heroes, filled the gaps in their stories. In the center of fans’ attention is planeswalkers Jace and Chandra who possibly become the main heroes in the upcoming TV adaptation. Developers of the game were always supportive of these fandoms, which have their own side stories made by fans, set in the same universe. You can call it officially approved fanfiction. Possibly, these stories made up by fans that already became a narrative canon will be included in Netflix’ scenario.
Let’s not forget about white, blue, green, black and red main colors of magic. They all represent unique qualities and even philosophy. It is like being picked in one of Hogwarts houses or getting related to the GoT houses. The color represents your personality and dictates your future. This is a cosmology of the game, according to Kelman. Why can’t be a good base for the show? In the past, we have already seen the shows with characters throwing cards at each other that later turn in various creatures and fight on the arena. What was the name of this show, again?
Game into the movie: Why not?
Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, Super Mario, Pokemon Go, Mortal Kombat, this is just a few games that come in mind when we are talking about games into movies and vice versa formats. And we can’t even think of the world without comic book adaptations: Batman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Avengers, etc. New scripts are being created every day. They are made by professionals; they are inspired by fans and their demands.
Magic: The Gathering game is a brilliant creation mainly because it can quickly be adapted to anything new. When Gideon Jura dies in the comic novel, developers release set of cards dedicated to the life and abilities of this planeswalker. The cosmology is actually building upon the game, respecting its rules. According to Jose Molina, one of the scriptwriters, in the new adaptation, Netflix will also follow the game’s rules.
Does it look great?
What do you think of the upcoming adaptation of Magic: The Gathering? The idea seems great for many of us, but not all the fans are so optimistic about it. There is a unique atmosphere in the game, its own world, restrictions, the way it acts. Do you think the movie can save it?